Do you use formal pencil and paper pre-assessments prior to starting a math unit? My thoughts are mixed on this and am wondering what others are. I have found that after the joy and celebration of successfully completing a unit, my kids are hit with this pre assessment that often no one passes. So they go from feeling great one day to feeling really insecure the next with the pre assessment n the new unit. I am giving district created math assessments but am wondering if there isn't a better way to determine prior knowledge and effectively use pre-assessments. For all you middle and high school math teachers, what do you do? Thanks !!

Remind them that the point of a pre-assessment is not for them to pass it. The point is so you the teacher can see where they really and truly are to begin with - what they've already got and where it needs to be built on.

I don't. I usually assume that they know, or remember, pretty much nothing and start from scratch. I kknow this sounds unprofessional, but I just don't want to give up the classtime for a pre-assessment. I would rather spend that same time reviewing the basics. It just seems to me to be a better use of the time.

Alice, I agree with you. They always want us to give a pre-assessment in English--have them write an essay-- and they're always horrible. Why do we spend 3 days testing on things we've never taught just to find out they don't know what we want to teach?! Never made sense to me.

I do give a pre-assessment before each chapter in math. I think it's a great way to see what the kids already know, so when I group them or start teaching them, the kids that understood the topics on the pre-assessment could get a more challenging assignment so they're not bored. Also, I've found that when parents ask me what their child has learned so far, I can whip out the pre-assessment and post-assessment and show them exactly what was learned. It only takes me one class period, which I don't think is that big of a deal.

For those that do give a pre-assessment, do you grade them and have it count toward their overall grade? Do you create your own or give the assessments provided by district or in the math material? THanks for the speedy comments - I started a new unit yesterday without a pre-assessment but am thinking about giving it today or tomorrow even though we will have had a couple lessons.

No way!! I would never grade a pre-assessment! You can't grade a student on something you haven't taught them yet. I had a coworker that gave a pre-assessment and had it count as a quiz grade and is now having to deal with the parents emailing her and calling her about it. Not a good idea. Once my students hand it in, they never see it again. Except for a few cases in which I have to whip it out to compare their pre to their post assessment. Otherwise, it's for teaching purposes only. And I create my own based on what I'm going to be teaching them for that unit.

I'm with you, Alice...I just teach it. I used to give pretests, but not anymore. I haven't go the time to do it (the block periods are killing me) and the pretest just points out what I already know...some kids know some stuff, some don't, so I have to teach it all anyway. I try to find ways to "advance" on material that it is obvious that some know, by adding vocabulary, or expanding on the idea, or little shortcuts, etc. for the kids who already "get it." Frankly, the review is good for them, too. Plus - most of them like having an "easy" HW night, and they need to learn format, anyway (many come to me very lacking in math formats such as showing steps correctly.)

When I taught sixth grade math I did a few and then stopped. I would already know which kids would do well on it and which would not. So based on what I already knew I could differentiate my instruction anyway. I just found it to be a waste to find out what I already knew without the pre-test. On the few that I did give, I never graded it.

I do use pre-assessments all the time. They range from a pen and pencil test type assessment to a question that the students answer on an index card. I use these to guide my lesson planning. I do not grade them and I do not let them take a lot of class time. I give the pre-assessment, collect them, and then go over them with the students.

The one plus I see with pre-assessments is that it could be a great way to show the kids how far they have come. So when they hit onto a new subject and say that it is too hard, they can't do it, just remind them with the proof that they have done before and they are capable of doing it again.

The only formal pre-assessment I give is the first day of class, and that's not really even a true pre-assessment...it's a review of what they should have learned the previous year. I use it to find out just how much they've forgotten over the summer (or never learned to begin with), so I know how far back I have to go. I do have a sort of informal preassessment though. On every exam there is a set of "bonus" questions (2-3), in which I'll combine concepts from the next unit into problems from the one being tested on to see what they can do with it. I always give at least partial credit for the bonus problems for any student who gives a thoughtful response, even if it's completely wrong. It seems to encourage the kids to think ouside the box and stretch their wings.

I talked to a teacher today who gave me a different perspective on the whole idea of pre-assessing. She only does it once a term, but on the first day she does a sort of game of math problems. They start off super easy, so that everyone gets them right gets a small prize for answering correctly. Then they get progressively harder and harder until no one is capable of doing them. She starts flashing the problems up really quickly. By that point, she says that they're all excited about the "game" aspect of it. It's all very fun and upbeat. Once the hard questions really get going, they all teasingly complain, "What? We can't do that!" kind of stuff. Then she settles them down and tells them, "Well, by the end of our first term, you WILL be able to." It's sort of a motivational strategy she uses while assessing them at the same time. I thought that was a neat idea.

Does anyone have any math assessments to give to the students at the beginning of the year so teachers can see where there students are math wise? I teach 1st grade and my team is looking for an assessment. This including basic number sense and such math concepts. Please let me know if you have any websites of ideas! Thanks!

I've often thought that pre-assessments in math should be mostly over the prerequisite skills, to show the teacher what desperately needs to be shored up, and a few ideas from the new material. Maybe a 75/25 split or so. The way I was originally taught to do it, giving the same test at the front and back of the unit, was a serious waste of time since if I bothered to score the whole thing and find out what I could compress because the kids already knew it, I found out that, no kidding, I have to teach the whole unit, because a few of them knew a few things but none of the areas are already mastered by a large portion of the class...whodathunkit!

I am very much not a primary teacher, but I would think that for the beginning of grade 1, you would want to do an individual conference with each student to determine things like: how high the student can count, number recognition, writing the numerals, one-to-one correspondence, naming simple shapes, combining groups of objects, etc.

Our students are way too street smart for a pretest. They'll get them all wrong so that you reteach them what they already know and they do well. We have trouble getting through curriculum because of that game. Its a battle to hold them accountable for anything they should have learned in previous classes.